To most guitar enthusiasts the names D’Angelico and D’Aquisto have a magical ring. Along with Lloyd Loar they are seen as the godfathers (maybe a somewhat awkward term for two New Yorkers with Italian names) of the archtop guitar.
John D’Angelico apprenticed to his uncle, a maker of violins and mandolins at the age of 14. In the thirties he would take over his workshop and focus on guitars. Jimmy D’Aquisto would become John’s apprentice in the fifties. After D’Angelico’s untimely death at 59 Jimmy would take over the workshop. He continued the models John made, but over time changed and updated them into his own style.
Unfortunately D’Aquisto also died at 59. After his death the workshop materials went to another maker, who was killed the next year. The workbench and inventory found their way to the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota. One of the advantages is that these materials will stay available for study over the years. Click here for some detail pictures and more information.
Their work continues to inspire contemporary guitar makers. Many prolific archtop makers, like John Monteleone and Ken Parker have ties to this workshop.